FitzGerald loses economic talking point with federal data revision
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald will no longer be able to use his oft-repeated statistic that Ohio is 45th in job creation. New numbers by the federal government reveal that Ohio ranked 26th last year, instead of 45th, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Ohio had a growth rate of 1.21 percent, and unemployment fell by 0.2 percent. The information FitzGerald had been reporting came from the federal government, but was revised in the opposite direction earlier this month. FitzGerald’s campaign says its focus on the economy won’t shift, even if a few statistics did change.
Tea Party plans rally to unseat Republican congressman
A national Tea Party group is planning a rally tomorrow morning to drum up support to unseat freshman Republican Representative Dave Joyce of Russell Township. The Plain Dealer reports the rally is being held in Chagrin Falls by FreedomWorks for America. The group plans to hand out 1,000 yard signs and other materials against Joyce at the rally. The group calls Joyce a “bought-and-paid-for” politician, and disapproves of his financial backers it refers to as Washington insiders. Joyce will be challenged by republican State Representative Matt Lynch of Bainbridge Township in the primary.
Wind energy company receives support form environmental groups
The Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. now has the endorsement of several top environmental groups for its planned wind farm on the Great Lakes. The Plain Dealer reports LEEDCo wants to erect six turbines off the coast of Cleveland as part of a pilot project on freshwater wind farms. LEEDCo is nonprofit, and says it wants to use local labor and local parts to create a new wind-energy industry in Northeast Ohio. The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, Environment Ohio, Mom’s Clean Air Force, Ohio Interfaith Power & Light and the Earth Day Coalition all support LEEDCo’s efforts.
Cleveland examines merger with East Cleveland
The city of Cleveland is taking a look at what a merger with East Cleveland would actually involve. Council President Kevin Kelley told the Plain Dealer he and Mayor Frank Jackson have asked experts at Cleveland State University to provide them with information on municipal mergers. After some study, the city will then decide whether to pursue further research and possible action. East Cleveland’s population has dropped by more than half since 1950 and is considered the poorest city per capita in the state. Interest in a possible merger began back in November.
Community banks merge
Cuyahoga Falls community bank Valley Savings will soon merge with Medina County’s Westfield Bank. Financial terms of the agreement haven’t been released, but the Beacon Journal reports that the banks will have combined assets in excess of $1 billion. Both Valley Savings branches in Cuyahoga Falls will begin operating under the Westfield Bank name when the merger is complete in September. Westfield has six other locations in Northeast Ohio. The merger will bring its employment to approximately 150.
Sex-abuse law has little impact eight years later
A law meant to warn families about sex abuse by priests by creating a civil registry has had no impact in the eight years since it was passed. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the registry was created when the Ohio House stripped the bill of a one-year window for victims to file a lawsuit about child sex abuse, even if the statute of limitations had run out. Instead, it gave victims the opportunity to put child-sex offenders on an online registry if the offender was found liable in a civil suit. But eight years after the law was passed, the list remains empty. Although the list is still available, the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association says it really has no impact and victims do not receive damages.
Lawmakers call for investigation into Ohio EPA
Several lawmakers want the Ohio EPA to be investigated by the state’s inspector general. The Columbus Dispatch reports four democratic House members say they believe the EPA has faced “inappropriate political pressure” from the Kasich administration in the handling of environmental matters. Nickie J. Antonio of Lakewood, John Carney of Columbus, Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown and Debbie Phillips of Albany all signed a letter requesting the investigation yesterday. The group believes the EPA may be selectively enforcing laws to help companies that are affiliated with Kasich. The Ohio EPA says the claims are baseless.
Kasich's budget split into separate bills
State House Speaker William Batchelder has split up Governor John Kasich's midterm budget plan into 14 separate bills. Batchelder says he made the move because the plan is a "policy-rich" document and should get thorough consideration. The governor's plan makes sweeping tax and education changes and streamlines government services for jobseekers and the poor. It contains an 8.5-percent income tax cut funded by tax increases on drilling, tobacco products and commercial activity. Batchelder sent to 11 House committees bills broken down by categories such as education, taxes, workforce development, mental health, gambling and veterans issues.
Oil spill cleanup continues at nature preserve
Cleanup efforts continue at a nature preserve near Cincinnati after thousands of gallons of crude oil leaked from an interstate pipeline. The spill has been contained and workers are vacuuming oil from a wetlands area near the pipeline. Cincinnati water officials don't believe the spill will affect the area's drinking water supply.
More mumps cases confirmed at Ohio State
Columbus public health officials say five more cases of mumps have been confirmed at Ohio State, bringing the total number of cases to 28. All but five of the cases involve students, with the remainder staffers or others with university connections. The confirmed cases involve 12 women and 16 men. They range in age from 18 to 48. Three of them were hospitalized for at least one day. Ohio State employees and students who returned this week from spring break have been urged to take precautions to keep themselves healthy. Investigators are mapping the cases to try to find how people got infected.
Conservancy group to buy earthworks site
A conservancy group has successfully bid on one of the last privately held native American Hopewell earthworks sites in Ohio after the land was put up for sale. Arc of Appalachia launched a fundraising campaign two weeks ago to save the earthworks in Chillicothe about 50 miles south of Columbus from possible development. The Chillicothe Gazette reports Wednesday the group bid $650,000 for the nearly 90 acres of land after coming to the auction with $350,000 in secured pledges.
Strickland to head advocacy branch of progressive think tank
Ohio's former governor has been named head of the advocacy arm of a progressive think tank in Washington. Democrat Ted Strickland says he'll become president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund on April 1. Strickland said the job entails blogging and traveling around the country talking about liberal causes such as minimum-wage increases, immigration reform, pay equity, workers' rights, abortion rights and same-sex marriage. Working at the nonprofit precludes him from making commercials or holding fundraisers for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald in his fall campaign against Republican Gov. John Kasich.